Okehampton Town and Hamlets Neighbourhood Plan
When the Localism Act 2011 was passed, giving the right to communities to make Neighbourhood Plans, it was too late to change most of the development which had already been approved on the east side of Okehampton.
During the neighbourhood planning process we have seen additional greenfield sites approved for housing development. This is the cause of much frustration amongst local people. So, is our Neighbourhood Plan too late?
The Neighbourhood Plan sits beneath the National Planning Policy Framework and the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan and we cannot contradict these. So, is there any need for a Neighbourhood Plan?
We believe that the future of the Town and Hamlets can still in some measure be shaped by us, the local community. We can seek to influence the type of housing built. We can support community build and affordable housing proposals. We can ask for building materials which reflect traditional local styles as well as requesting environmentally sustainable development. We can prioritise building on brownfield sites. We can advocate for safe access, sufficient parking and green spaces. We cannot necessarily refuse development, but we can ensure it is fit for purpose, where younger people can afford to live and where the older population are within walking distance of the town centre.
So much of what makes for a thriving community lies outside the reach of planning policy. It takes roads and businesses and healthcare and local amenities, which are the responsibility of various authorities and agencies, who all interpret the data and evidence differently. We need joined-up thinking and for our councils and services to work together with the local community. We believe our Neighbourhood Plan can be the catalyst for this.
Moving into one of the new build developments a few years ago, like many other recent arrivals, the Neighbourhood Plan has given an opportunity to be part of shaping a thriving local community, by valuing our history, contributing to the vision, and connecting the past, present and future.
So, if you are reading this Neighbourhood Plan as it goes to a public vote, I would encourage you to say “Yes!” It has been a long hard slog to get to this point, but I am convinced it will make a difference.
Chair of Neighbourhood Planning Group